What mattered most to former Camera editor Thad Keyes was publishing a good newspaper every day, chock full of the day’s headlines as well as great stories.

Thad’s ideals are still the standard: The Camera’s news team produces more than 4,600 stories a year, plus hundreds of news briefs, editorials, blogs and online updates, all while on a crazy, deadline-driven schedule. His lasting legacy here also includes the Thad Keyes Award, created in his honor to promote exceptional community journalism that matters to everyday people.

Thad opened this year’s presentation with praise for the newsroom staff’s coverage of the Fourmile Canyon fire: “You guys not only had to cover the fire, you had to deal with posting constant updates on your website, video-ing interviews, dealing with Twitter and Facebook and God knows what else. You did a great job of it, and distinguished the Camera.

“Other work that distinguishes a newspaper to its readers is when it undertakes a story truly in-depth, committing the resources for hours and hours of difficult reporting, writing, editing and rewriting,” Thad continued. “That describes the 15-part series ‘Free to Kill’ by staff reporter John Aguilar, who receives this year’s award about the serial killer Scott Kimball.

“As a reader – and one not particularly interested in crime stories – I found the series to be compelling, riveting. What makes a person like Kimball do what he did? How could he be so incredibly charming to people, and be such a monster? And, perhaps most revealing was seeing how the FBI makes deals with the devil to run its informants like Kimball ….

“The stories of these murders were direct, but never lurid. The stories of the victim’s families were touching, but never sentimental.”

Congratulations John, and great work. If you missed the enthralling “Free to Kill” series, you can find it on our website, www.dailycamera.com.